SHERIDAN — What comes to mind when you hear “healthy”? Do you think diet? Bland tasting foods? Exercise? Weight loss? Pain? Denial?

When you hear the word “healthy,” do you think of sleep, breathing techniques, effective communication, decision making, enrichment, enhancement?

The Sheridan Senior Center, in partnership with the Wyoming Center on Aging, is launching Healthy U! a statewide health promotion program designed to empower a healthier Wyoming. The program will soon be offering its first six-week workshop with topics addressing sleep, movement, communication, relaxation, mindfulness, action plans, problem solving and healthful eating.

Many in Sheridan would recognize the Healthy U! name with the health fairs that community health professionals offered monthly at the Senior Center. The fairs covered a range of health topics such as vision, cancer support and adult protection.

The Healthy U name has been adopted for the statewide health promotion program.

“This class is open to the community age 18 and older,” said Janet Korpela, director of the Sheridan Senior Center’s Help at Home program. “It is intended to reach out to those seeking a healthier lifestyle.”

Korpela points out those who could benefit more immediately are those who are currently dealing with a chronic disease and/or those caring for someone with a chronic disease.

“Examples of chronic diseases could include, but are not limited to, those with asthma, pain, cancer, autoimmune disorders, early stages of Alzheimer or other dementias, diabetes, pre-diabetes or cardiovascular conditions,” said Beth Young Jones, program coordinator for the Wyoming Center On Aging based on campus at the University of Wyoming.

Healthy U! is the name given to Wyoming’s implementation of Stanford University’s evidence-based chronic disease self-management program.

“The origins of this program began in 1996,” Young said. “It exists in communities throughout the United States except Wyoming, up until now.”

The intent is for Healthy U! to expand statewide.

“This program is one of more than 30 geriatric enhancement goals awarded in a grant by the federal Health Resources and Services Administration,” Young said.

The grant allows for residents to participate in the workshop at no charge. All materials will be provided.

Healthy U is a health promotion program. Participants do not need to have a chronic illness to participate. Caregivers, friends and other supportive individuals can benefit from the program.

“We are not telling people what to do,” Korpela said. “What we’re offering is suggestions to people how to self-manage so they can live healthier.”

Participants in other states have demonstrated significant improvement in areas including communication with physicians, health distress, fatigue, disability and exercise. Results show that participants spend fewer days in the hospital and a trend toward fewer outpatient visits and hospitalizations. Healthy U! does not speak to treatment or conflict with existing programs or treatments.

Young visualizes an ongoing Healthy U! program throughout the state eventually taught by peer leaders. The ideal peer leader would be an individual who is managing a chronic condition who can speak to and from the experience.

In Sheridan, Healthy U! trained leaders are Dave Schwaiger and Korpela. They will be conducting the first Healthy U! workshops beginning on Monday Jan. 11, 2016.

“We currently have five people enrolled,” Korpela said. “We can host 16 people for this class.”

Pre-enrollment is required and is easy with a simple participant registration form available at the front desk at the Sheridan Senior Center.  Registration deadline is Jan. 6.

Classes are highly participative with the objective to support participants in their ability to self-manage their health.

Questions about the program in Sheridan can be directed to either Korpela or Schwaiger locally at 675-1978.